What Are You Doing....?

In a pinch, a big jar of cornichons make a great date.

I have a Facebook friend who posted that this was the first year since she was 13 (she's now in her early 40's) that she hadn't been kissed at midnight on New Year's Eve. And that it was sad but gave her a lot to think about. Huh. I honestly can't even remember the last time I had that compulsory midnight kiss. I'm not saying I haven't been kissed at all. I've been kissed quite often, actually, and well (for the record, I'm a very good kisser), but not on New Year's due to a number of factors that I won't get into here. Not since I was married and definitely not the last year I lived with my husband. So, I'm thinking it's at least been since 2000 or 2001. But things were already pretty funky in 2001, so maybe I was across the room or sound asleep when the ball dropped. Anyway, I'm wondering -- should this be a goal? A resolution, perhaps? To be kissed at midnight on New Year's Eve? 

Oh sure, I've had the perfunctory peck from friends and family after they've already kissed their real person. I usually turn my head slightly to avoid the look of pity. One year I even got a cork in the eye, so that was tactile contact at least. 

This year S and I were stuck in the narrow winding streets of Old Montreal in our car until about 12:02, January 1. When we finally pulled into the lot, S commented that maybe the old Quebecois parking attendant might kiss me. That didn't make me feel pathetic at all. Anyway, I was pretty sure he wouldn't have even if I asked.

I don't buy into the whole you must have a great time on New Year's Eve or else your life sucks thing (see also: Valentine's Day). But it would be nice to kiss the right person any time or day that I wanted. 

Okay, fine. I'll put it on my goals/resolutions list, and we'll see where I am in 352 days. 
In the meantime, cook this:

Chicken Tagine with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon
Adapted from The Food Network/Tyler Florence (I don't know who Tyler Florence is, but he also has a kick-ass Texas Chili worth looking up)

1 cinnamon stick
1 t whole black peppercorns
1 t cumin seeds
1 t sweet or hot paprika
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t whole cloves
3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 t chopped fresh ginger
1 handfull fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 large pinch saffron
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 preserved lemon (easy enough to find a recipe for homemade, but requires a month of advanced planning. I just zip over to the closest middle eastern market)
1/2 c cracked green olives
1 c chicken stock

In a skillet over medium heat, toast the cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and cloves until they start to smoke. Remove from heat and grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

In a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, add the oil, spice mix, garlic, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves, and saffron. Mix to a paste. Add chicken, rubbing the marinade all over the pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve marinade. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a tagine or large casserole over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Put in chicken pieces and lightly brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Rinse preserved lemon well. Scoop out flesh and discard; cut peel into strips and add to pan. Add reserved marinade, olives, and chicken stock. Cover tightly and cook over medium low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and discard. Taste juices and adjust seasoning. Place chicken on a warm platter. Spoon juices with the preserved lemon, olives, and onions over chicken.

Serve with couscous. At Tyler's suggestion I've been adding the juice of 1/2 a caracara orange (caracara for the couscous), sliced scallions, and chopped dried apricots.